Role of Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning attorneys, also referred to as estate law attorneys or probate attorneys play a crucial role in assisting Willmakers throughout the probate process. Compared to a general law practitioner, an estate planning attorney has specialized knowledge to help clients with their unique family and financial situation. It is their fiduciary duty to be well-versed in the state’s laws in which they practice and maintain a thorough understanding of federal laws.
As experienced law professionals, the duties of an estate attorney include conducting estate inventory, valuation and dispersion of assets to rightful heirs, and taxation or other required payments after the estate owner’s passing. In addition to helping create a Will, designating beneficiaries, and delineating the probate process, estate planning attorneys also help ensure that the estate plan is valid and recognized under current state laws.
In light of an individual’s needs and desires, the estate planning attorney may help establish any of three critical designations to facilitate smoother probate: a power of attorney, a health care proxy, and a living Will.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes an estate planning attorney to manage financial affairs on the client’s behalf. Power of attorney designation helps mitigate against delays, frustration, and a potentially costly conservatorship process for the Willmaker should they become incapacitated.
The primary difference between conservatorship and a power of attorney is that when an adult becomes incapable of making decisions, the court appoints a guardian or a conservator on the individual’s behalf. Whereas, in the case of a power of attorney, the Willmaker themselves may assign one to act on their behalf for financial purposes.
Health Care Proxy
An estate planning attorney may also help draft a health care proxy, which allows an appointed adult to make medical decisions on behalf of the individual. A health care proxy has the power to decide if life-sustaining measures should be taken based on the unique medical circumstances at play. Having a health care proxy drafted by an estate planning lawyer can reduce costs associated with the guardianship process.
A living Will is different from a conventional Will in that it determines the inheritance of assets and properties. A living Will also expresses desires regarding using extraordinary measures to extend the Willmaker’s life if they become incapacitated. To review whether a living Will must be drafted in addition to a last Will and testament, estate planning attorneys should be aware of all retirement plan beneficiaries, insurance policy beneficiaries, and joint accounts held by the Willmaker.
HeirSearch Can Help Estate Planning Attorneys with Research Services
HeirSearch’s professional researchers assist estate planners and executors of a Will to ensure the transfer of an estate’s assets is executed smoothly in line with the deceased’s wishes.
At HeirSearch, we’ve seen it all. If you are the executor of a Will or an attorney representing an executor of a Will and need to establish heirship or execute a Will to satisfy the court, HeirSearch can help. We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, court-ready documents, and reasonable, non-percentage-based search fees.
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